Buford "Bucky" Rogers, arrested a year ago in what the FBI called a major terrorist plot, was sentenced to three years and four months in prison on Monday in Minneapolis after U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery pressed a federal prosecutor to assure her there was no terrorist conspiracy after all.
Montgomery noted that Rogers' arrest in Montevideo, Minn., was a national news story that drew "an inordinate amount of pretrial publicity" for what eventually became an "ordinary" crime of illegal possession of two explosive devices and a firearm.
"I don't think you are a terrorist or part of a conspiracy," Montgomery told Rogers, who was dressed in a checkered short-sleeved shirt, dark pants and orange jail sandals.
Speaking barely above a whisper, Rogers said he felt bad that his conduct had hurt his family.
His father, mother, brother and girlfriend arrived late and sat in a back row. They had no comment afterward.
Rogers has already served a year in jail, which will be counted as part of his sentence. He could be out of prison in another year and a half if he gets time off for good behavior and is allowed to move to a halfway house, according to his attorney, Andrew Mohring.
Federal prosecutors Andrew Winter and Charles Kovats Jr. had sought a five-year, three-month sentence, while Mohring asked for two years. Montgomery said she chose a sentence in between, noting that while he was not involved in a terrorist plot, he had a history of weapons violations.
Time to pay attention
Having served little time for past arrests, he had not learned his lesson, she said.
"You can't be around anyone with firearms," she said to Rogers. "You really have to make a change. … I hope we've got your attention now."
Rogers pleaded guilty in January to possession of a semiautomatic rifle, which is illegal because of his previous burglary conviction, and possession of two unregistered nails-and-black powder explosive devices.
He was arrested May 1 when 50 law enforcement officers raided his parents' mobile home in Montevideo after the FBI got a tip that he planned an imminent attack on the Montevideo police station and National Guard armory. The tipster said Rogers cheered the Boston Marathon bombing, which took place two weeks before.
In a presentence memorandum last week, prosecutors conceded "that a broader plot was not discovered."
Labeled for life
At the hearing, Mohring said "people should be punished for what they did, not what was speculated." He said Rogers was a victim of pretrial publicity. "He will wear this label 'terrorist' for the rest of his life."
U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger issued a statement after the sentencing:
"We are pleased that Buford Rogers has been held responsible for his dangerous criminal behavior. I am proud of the work performed by the FBI and the Montevideo Police Department for their swift response to this public safety threat. The weapons and explosives in Rogers' possession could have harmed many people, and the investigators did excellent work to ensure this could not occur."